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Millfield school's reputation? Is it fit for this ds?

(50 Posts)
Immenselygrateful Sat 21-Jun-14 21:02:29

Hullo helpful ladies,

What do you know about Millfield school? Do you think it would be 'ok' for us?
DS is a bright (10 yr old) boy but who needs some pushing to do his work, both homework and (esp) class work. He is currently overseas ( in Uganda) but the social climber in me wants to send him to your land for senior school. We have considered a number of schools but Milfield was the only one where no written test is required for overseas applicants ( according to the good school's guide) and this sounded like music to my ears ( esp coz I am unable to afford tutors and DIY tutoring would be too difficult). Anyway, I have got a glimpse of the reputations of some of the other schools from the threads here but not for Milfield. Would you pliz let me know what you think of it? I am most afraid of drugs, bulling and lack of adequate pastoral care! My DS is also the dreamy type, and I read that at this sch, the dim end stretches on and on. Won't he be left to his dreams and hence become dim?
I am meeting the registrar next week when he visits Kenya but I need to have some view of the sch beyond what the website and the good schools guide say...I guess!

Thanks for any and every response.

LIZS Sat 21-Jun-14 21:05:21

Is he sporty ? How good is his written work ? If he would struggle to complete a non competitive test I'd worry about his ability to cope in an English school even with EAL support.

Immenselygrateful Sat 21-Jun-14 21:11:32

He is not sporty ( we have really never given him the opportunities to try anything much). His written work is good. However he is currently in a school following the Ugandan ( rather than England's) curriculum. The struggle is with his writting speed. He can sit with a paper and dream on ..except in exams, where he writes quickly and finishes first most of the time.

LIZS Sat 21-Jun-14 21:16:35

So why can't he take a written test ? Millfield isn't academically challenging but relies on other aptitudes for its reputation especially sport and arts. Is also v £££ and there are plenty of cheaper options for all-roundedness and less selective. iirc The prep school goes up to 13 , when are you looking for him to join ?

Immenselygrateful Sat 21-Jun-14 21:33:32

He can take a written test. But would he pass it? Definitely not..without rigorous tutoring. That is why I was delighted to find a ( I think, good) school which doesn't need test results ...
I wanted him to join at 13. Wouldn't that be year 9?

Immenselygrateful Sat 21-Jun-14 21:34:47

Lizs, please give me some names of the cheaper options.

LIZS Sat 21-Jun-14 21:42:04

Try looking here for ideas. There is plenty of choice including www.roundsquare.org/ . Are you looking for a traditional "public" school or something more relaxed, IB or A levels , geographical location etc . Why have you focussed on Millfield ?

mateysmum Sat 21-Jun-14 21:46:16

I understand your concerns, but it might be better to let your DS take a test. For many non-selective independents it's a way of checking that a child can cope and also where to place the child in the school. To let DS "sneak"in without a written test and then struggle would be the worst thing.

Millfield has a generally good reputation and I believe takes from a wide range of abilities, but its strength is in sports. We didn't look at it for our non sporty DS.

Have a look at Taunton School. It takes a wide range of abilities and does not always ask for written tests, and it has an international section.

However, I think most schools would ask a child coming from a non British curriculum system to do some test as otherwise it is just too much of a risk for school and pupil.

Immenselygrateful Sat 21-Jun-14 22:05:17

Thanks both. Btw, is this sch near any airport? What about wincoll?

LIZS Sun 22-Jun-14 06:33:37

Actually you may be better of looking at slightly lesser known schools and focussing on a geographical area. Literally get a map and look at transport links to major airports. Millfield is a couple of hours from Heathrow, Taunton a bit further. What about SE schools like Eastbourne and Battle Abbey which are accessible from Gatwick. Would flying to Manchester be an option? Some of the schools further north may be better value for money and still suit your ds well. Ask about their % day to boarding, number of overseas students and at what age, enrichment activities, what EAL support they offer etc.

Flicktheswitch Sun 22-Jun-14 06:41:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

soddinghormones Sun 22-Jun-14 07:31:36

If you can't afford a tutor you're surely not going to be able to afford Millfield's eye-watering fees confused
There are a lot of exceptionally rich kids there with many of the attendant problems (drugs etc) that can bring

Winchester is one of the most academically elite schools in the country so probably wouldn't be the right fit

In your position I'd definitely look at less well-known schools which might actually be a much better fit. However I would worry that a not particularly academic, dreamy child who's been following a different curriculum would struggle being catapulted into the English system at Y9 just when things start to gear up for public exams. Wouldn't it be better to concentrate on enriching his experiences at home especially if money is tight

Immenselygrateful Sun 22-Jun-14 07:47:44

Flick, I have visited the kingswood website. The fees are definitely less ...thanks for the recommendation. I wonder which other ones can I look at?
sodding, money isn't so tight??it is borderline I would say. Could you pliz point me to the less well known schools which may be a better fit please? I really need to know. I am most interested in very academic sch where a ds wouldn't be bothered if all he did was cheer on sports teams.
He is also not musical..
I am taking him to a sch following a British curriculum this autumn btw.

Thanks all for the useful comments.

LIZS Sun 22-Jun-14 07:54:50

Have you looked at my links below, ISC includes most independent schools ? There is no point sending a child who is not academic to an academic school . Even 3 years of British curriculum(whatever they mean by that!) may not achieve the same as 3 years at a Prep school which is focussed on Common Entrance and specific destination senior schools. For those entering from overseas and state/non CE schools there is often an alternative entrance route based more on inherent skills ie Verbal Reasoning and interview. Do you know Britain and the British Education system yourself or are you relying solely on reputation and kudos ? Have you visited or arrange a visit to a shortlist ? Could you engage a consultant to do the leg work for you .

summerends Sun 22-Jun-14 08:33:12

All academic schools will require some sort of test though initial ones may be more IQ based than need lots of preparation.
Also the prices of boarding schools are fairly similar, even the less good ones.
Have you any family / friends in the UK? If so look at weekly boarding options which would be more affordable.
maybe you should focus on getting your DS the best opportunities more locally including tuition as necessary and consider sending him for the sixth form.

summerends Sun 22-Jun-14 08:36:41

Just to add that I am puzzled why you can't afford extra tuition but can stretch to the huge costs of overseas boarding including flights?

goinggetstough Sun 22-Jun-14 09:34:11

In addition to the above comments:

Millfield is a large school and although it has traditionally been viewed as a sports school many non-sporty DCs attend and do very well there. My DC included. Due to its size there are many opportunities for a variety of activities etc

Millfield does take pupils from a wide cross section of ability.

Although Millfield is a large school the House system is a similiar size to other smaller schools 50/60 per house. Classes can be as small as 6 for GCSE subjects in the lower ability groups.

As overseas parents we only looked at schools with Saturday school. Our DCs enjoyed being busy at weekends. Eg lessons to lunchtime then some type of activity in the afternoon ( maybe a match) and then Saturday evening and Sunday to relax and maybe do homework etc.

Do check the number of full boarders. Many schools call all their boarders full boarders but allow them to go home every weekend. Different schools have different definitions as to what full boarding actually means.

We have had friends with DCs both at Taunton school and Kings College Taunton. It is a good location as a direct line to Paddington and then the Heathrow express. Pastoral care was good too.

If you have any specific questions about Millfield do feel free to PM me.

happygardening Sun 22-Jun-14 09:52:01

IMO opinion you end to find yours a good full boarding prep (most will provide EFL support) I've seen many children arrive at my DS's old prep at your DS's age with fairly poor English and within a very short period of time not only does their English improve very quickly they successfully pass CE into a good senior school. A good prep will also advise you on which senior school has plenty of full boarders.
Nearly all those mentioned above are not proper full boarding schools especially for younger children many will have more in their 6th form neither are the vast majority of boarding schools in the UK so you need proper advise. Unless you have relatives friends who can have your DS at home every Sat night then do choose a proper full boarding school otherwise your DS will find himself in school every weekend with literally a handful (if he's lucky) of children of his own age.
The following preps I believe (you must check) are either full boarding only or have lots of full boarders Summer Fields, Cothill and Windlesham House (the one near Worthing). Be very careful most boarding schools in the UK especially prep schools are struggling to fill their vacancies there simple aren't enough UK parents who want full boring with this kind of money around so they will tell you anything to get your money. You need to ask very carful and specific questions about the actual number of full boarders (don't go by the ISI reports). As I've frequently said before a friend literally stood at the end of every bed and said "does this one full board?" The numbers full boarding dwindled before her eyes from 60% to 4-5% for a child of 10 this is not enough in fact I personally don't feel it's enough for any child but especially one under 16.

soddinghormones Sun 22-Jun-14 09:54:48

You won't find a very academic school which is also non-selective - all the academic schools have very rigorous and competitive entry procedures

It seems a bit perverse to choose a not particularly academic school (Millfield) for a child who is bright but couldn't pass an entrance test and who is neither musical or sporty hmm

I assumed money was tight as you said you couldn't afford a tutor (max £50 per week) but apparently you can afford boarding (£30,000+ per year) plus flights from Uganda (minimum £3000 per year) which works out as more than £600 per week. The difference between those amounts is a lot more than borderline imo

Unexpected Sun 22-Jun-14 21:18:41

Why do you actually want to send your son to school in the UK? Is it because you genuinely think that a UK education will provide the right opportunities for him and will be a good fit or is it, as it unfortunately seems from your posts so far, because you just like the idea of having a UK-educated son from a well-known school?

How much do you know about the UK schooling system and about boarding schools here? Have you visited any? If you are about to spend £30k+ per annum on your son's education you would be well-advised to take a trip with your son to the UK to look at some possible schools.

Your son is not sporty, musical and it's difficult to work out if he is academic. You say he is bright but lazy but also seem convinced that he wouldn't pass any entrance test for a boarding school. He is also not following a UK curriculum currently so there may be gaps in what he will be expiated to know at this age in the UK. You want him in a very academic school but one which is non-selective which is, frankly, impossible. Very academic schools do not become so by letting everybody in! However, neither should you be choosing something as important as a school for your son simply on the basis of whichever one you think will be easiest for him to get into! What about how he will cope academically and emotionally once he is there and you are thousands of miles away?

Like others, I don't understand how you will afford the high fees if you will struggle to pay for tutoring for him. If fees will be a struggle, don't forget that there can be substantial extras as well for school trips, outings, uniform, insurance, subscriptions etc.

Immenselygrateful Sun 22-Jun-14 21:45:07

Why do I feel that my posts are not being well understood?
Maybe I need EAL support.
Anyway, I will come back and elucidate...in the morning.

happygardening Sun 22-Jun-14 22:07:27

OP I think I've understood your posts and hope I've offered constructive advise. I know Kingswood we have a really good friend who was a teacher there and is still involved there are very few boarders it is primarily a day school. I am writing and offering advise as a mother who's DS's full boarded from 7yrs old if you want your DS to be happy and settle (especially as you are abroad and can't exactly pop over if he's sad) only send him to a school where there is a high % of full boarders. As I said at 10 then a good prep will improve his English and prepare him for CE.

Immenselygrateful Mon 23-Jun-14 09:53:02

Thanks Happygardening. You have indeed offered constructive advise. On a similar note, I am going to register this very ds at Wincoll ( where I know you have a ds) but some houses are already full, and I know by the time I visit the sch in Sept, many more may be full. I would like to ask the sch if I can register before visiting, which is tricky since I need to indicate details of the preferred house master on the registration form. may I pm you for some advice on this? esp regarding your opinions of some of the housemasters whose houses aren't full yet?
Thanks once again.

soddinghormones Mon 23-Jun-14 10:15:15

Well good luck with that! I think the rest of us were also being constructive but realistic given the information you'd already given us about your ds and your finances ..

Immenselygrateful Mon 23-Jun-14 10:22:22

sodding, I am sorry for offending you. I appreciated your comments too, and comments of all the others. By thanking Happy, I wasn't saying that your were less constructive. I am sorry once again.
I totally understand that you were being realistic, but I also realised that I may not have given the real picture of the situation. For instance, I said I can not afford tutors but I didn't mention the quotations I have received from carfax, which is the only company that seemed willing to send a tutor to Uganda for this. I also didn't exactly present his academic ability accurately I guess. Anyway, I am not saying that my son will definetely be admitted to Wincoll, but a mother has got to try .....

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